Angling lost one of its great heroes last week when Benny Ashurst died suddenly aged 88.

The former miner, who along with the likes of Billy Hughes pioneered a revolution in match fishing techniques in the 1960s and 1970s, died two days into the new season, after going fishing as normal on opening day.

His son Kevin, who fished for England many times and won the world individual crown in a rock hard match on Ireland’s Newry Canal in 1982, was shocked and dismayed at his death, saying that he was alert and independent until his sudden collapse and used to drive himself everywhere.

Benny was right at the top of the tree in match fishing terms in his day, and listed a win in the 1000 peg Trent Championship in 1971 among his many triumphs.

Benny only started fishing after an accident down the mines, and honed his skills on the canal circuit around his home town of Leigh in Lancashire.

He began breeding his own bait and soon opened his own maggot farm and is credited as the man who worked out how to produce casters in usable quantities, and with developing the stick float and caster method for which he became famous.

He soon moved form the Bridgewater Canal onto the Midlands rivers where he became a dominant force on venues like the River Trent.